Intensify the friendship between London and Hong Kong: Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson brushes off electoral reform questions, focusing on promoting trade ties

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 October, 2013, 4:13pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 October, 2013, 3:25am

It was all about business - minus politics - for the maiden visit of London's mayor Boris Johnson to Hong Kong.

Johnson was eager to strengthen trade ties between London and Hong Kong in his meeting with Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying yesterday, but much more reluctant to touch on one of Hong Kong's hottest topics - universal suffrage.

"It is a matter for Hong Kong, for the Hong Kong people," Johnson said of the city's impending electoral reform. "It would be wrong of me to weigh in on that."

He was speaking on a ferry trip between Wan Chai and Tsim Sha Tsui as he sampled the city's transport system, part of a week-long trip to China with the British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.

The entourage has toured Beijing and Shanghai seeking to promote investment in Britain.

Johnson's meeting with Leung, he said, would cover a wide range of issues. "There is a great deal of interest in London … including [in strengthening] financial co-operation," he said.

Johnson stressed the common ground shared by Hong Kong and the British capital.

"The two cities are bonded by entrepreneurship … and the can-do spirit," said Johnson. "There is no gold or oil in Hong Kong."

The Conservative politician known for his unruly hairdo said British enterprises could open up the mainland via Hong Kong.

Posing on the ferry for journalists, he presented his plan for airport expansion.

"We need to intensify the friendship and partnership between Hong Kong and London. One way to do that is to have more direct flights from London to Hong Kong. We've got difficulties in Heathrow - the sheer congestion. They can't get enough flights at the moment to come into Chek Lap Kok," he said.

There are at least 70 direct flights a week connecting the two cities, operated by five airlines.

On a helicopter flight on Thursday, Johnson expressed his admiration for the Chek Lap Kok airport, calling on the UK government to "follow the example of Hong Kong" and approve a new airport in the east of London.